Future of Life Institute Podcast

Future of Life Institute Podcast

FLI catalyzes and supports research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges. Among our objectives is to inspire discussion and a sharing of ideas. As such, we interview researchers and thought leaders who we believe will help spur discussion within our community. The interviews do not necessarily represent FLI’s opinions or views.

Episodes

April 21, 2021 86 min
Jaan Tallinn, investor, programmer, and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, joins us to discuss his perspective on AI, synthetic biology, unknown unknows, and what's needed for mitigating existential risk in the 21st century. Topics discussed in this episode include: -Intelligence and coordination -Existential risk from AI, synthetic biology, and unknown unknowns -AI adoption as a delegation process -Jaan's invest...
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Joscha Bach, Cognitive Scientist and AI researcher, as well as Anthony Aguirre, UCSC Professor of Physics, join us to explore the world through the lens of computation and the difficulties we face on the way to beneficial futures.  Topics discussed in this episode include: -Understanding the universe through digital physics -How human consciousness operates and is structured -The path to aligned AGI and bottlenecks to beneficial ...
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Roman Yampolskiy, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Louisville, joins us to discuss whether we can control, comprehend, and explain AI systems, and how this constrains the project of AI safety.  Topics discussed in this episode include: -Roman’s results on the unexplainability, incomprehensibility, and uncontrollability of AI -The relationship between AI safety, control, and alignment -Virtual worlds as a proposa...
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Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley, and Zachary Kallenborn, WMD and drone swarms expert, join us to discuss the highest risk and most destabilizing aspects of lethal autonomous weapons.  Topics discussed in this episode include: -The current state of the deployment and development of lethal autonomous weapons and swarm technologies -Drone swarms as a potential weapon of mass destruction -The risks of esc...
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John Prendergast, former adjunct professor of psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, joins Lucas Perry for a discussion about the experience and effects of ego-identification, how to shift to new levels of identity, the nature of non-dual awareness, and the potential relationship between waking up and collective human problems. This is not an FLI Podcast, but a special release where Lucas shares a direction he ...
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Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, joins us to discuss the current risks of nuclear war, policies that can reduce the risks of nuclear conflict, and how to move towards a nuclear weapons free world. Topics discussed in this episode include: -The current nuclear weapons geopolitical situation -The risks and mechanics of accidental and i...
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Max Tegmark and members of the FLI core team come together to discuss favorite projects from 2020, what we've learned from the past year, and what we think is needed for existential risk reduction in 2021. Topics discussed in this episode include: -FLI's perspectives on 2020 and hopes for 2021 -What our favorite projects from 2020 were -The biggest lessons we've learned from 2020 -What we see as crucial and needed in ...
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The recipients of the 2020 Future of Life Award, William Foege, Michael Burkinsky, and Victor Zhdanov Jr., join us on this episode of the FLI Podcast to recount the story of smallpox eradication, William Foege's and Victor Zhdanov Sr.'s involvement in the eradication, and their personal experience of the events.  Topics discussed in this episode include: -William Foege's and Victor Zhdanov's efforts to eradicate s...
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Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Caltech, joins us on this episode of the FLI Podcast to comb through the history of human thought, the strengths and weaknesses of various intellectual movements, and how we are to situate ourselves in the 21st century given progress thus far.  Topics discussed in this episode include: -Important intellectual movements and their merits -The evolution of metaphysical and epistemological views...
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Mohamed Abdalla, PhD student at the University of Toronto, joins us to discuss how Big Tobacco and Big Tech work to manipulate public opinion and academic institutions in order to maximize profits and avoid regulation. Topics discussed in this episode include: -How Big Tobacco uses it's wealth to obfuscate the harm of tobacco and appear socially responsible -The tactics shared by Big Tech and Big Tobacco to preform ethics-was...
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Maria Arpa, Executive Director of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, joins the FLI Podcast to share the ins and outs of the powerful needs-based framework of nonviolent communication. Topics discussed in this episode include: -What nonviolent communication (NVC) consists of -How NVC is different from normal discourse -How NVC is composed of observations, feelings, needs, and requests -NVC for systemic change -Foundational ...
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Stephen Batchelor, a Secular Buddhist teacher and former monk, joins the FLI Podcast to discuss the project of awakening, the facets of human nature which contribute to extinction risk, and how we might better embrace existential threats.  Topics discussed in this episode include: -The projects of awakening and growing the wisdom with which to manage technologies -What might be possible of embarking on the project of waking up -F...
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Kelly Wanser from SilverLining joins us to discuss techniques for climate intervention to mitigate the impacts of human induced climate change.  Topics discussed in this episode include: - The risks of climate change in the short-term - Tipping points and tipping cascades - Climate intervention via marine cloud brightening and releasing particles in the stratosphere - The benefits and risks of climate intervention techniques  - T...
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In this episode of the AI Alignment Podcast, Andrew Critch joins us to discuss a recent paper he co-authored with David Krueger titled AI Research Considerations for Human Existential Safety. We explore a wide range of issues, from how the mainstream computer science community views AI existential risk, to the need for more accurate terminology in the field of AI existential safety and the risks of what Andrew calls prepotent AI sy...
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In the contemporary practice of many scientific disciplines, questions of values, norms, and political thought rarely explicitly enter the picture. In the realm of AI alignment, however, the normative and technical come together in an important and inseparable way. How do we decide on an appropriate procedure for aligning AI systems to human values when there is disagreement over what constitutes a moral alignment procedure? Choosi...
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From a young age, humans are capable of developing moral competency and autonomy through experience. We begin life by constructing sophisticated moral representations of the world that allow for us to successfully navigate our way through complex social situations with sensitivity to morally relevant information and variables. This capacity for moral learning allows us to solve open-ended problems with other persons who may hold co...
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It's well-established in the AI alignment literature what happens when an AI system learns or is given an objective that doesn't fully capture what we want.  Human preferences and values are inevitably left out and the AI, likely being a powerful optimizer, will take advantage of the dimensions of freedom afforded by the misspecified objective and set them to extreme values. This may allow for better optimization on the goa...
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June 26, 2020 43 min
This is a mix by Barker, Berlin-based music producer, that was featured on our last podcast: Sam Barker and David Pearce on Art, Paradise Engineering, and Existential Hope (With Guest Mix). We hope that you'll find inspiration and well-being in this soundscape. You can find the page for this podcast here: https://futureoflife.org/2020/06/24/sam-barker-and-david-pearce-on-art-paradise-engineering-and-existential-hope-featuring...
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Sam Barker, a Berlin-based music producer, and David Pearce, philosopher and author of The Hedonistic Imperative, join us on a special episode of the FLI Podcast to spread some existential hope. Sam is the author of euphoric sound landscapes inspired by the writings of David Pearce, largely exemplified in his latest album — aptly named "Utility." Sam's artistic excellence, motivated by blissful visions of the future, an...
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Over the past several centuries, the human condition has been profoundly changed by the agricultural and industrial revolutions. With the creation and continued development of AI, we stand in the midst of an ongoing intelligence revolution that may prove far more transformative than the previous two. How did we get here, and what were the intellectual foundations necessary for the creation of AI? What benefits might we realize from...
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